Why Does My Inner Knee Hurt?

The inner knee is a complex structure that takes on a lot of stress in your everyday life. For that reason, the inner knee is prone to injury.

In this guide, we take you through the seven most common causes of inner knee pain. We also introduce you to a number of exercises that can help you treat and prevent pain in your inner knee.

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Sanne-Maria Bjerno Medical Writer

Throughout your life, your knees take on a lot of stress. They allow you to walk, squat, and run. They also carry a significant amount of your weight. In fact, the knees are some of the biggest joints in the human body, connected via the femur and tibia bones. They are also fairly complex and prone to injury.

Various ligaments provide stability to the knees. A ligament is a connective tissue that attaches bone to bone. Besides the ligaments, many muscles attach to the bones at the knee joint. There are also small sacs of fluid, called bursa, that help prevent friction at the knees. All these structures can come under stress contributing to inner knee pain.

Yet, you want to get to the root of your problem. What exactly is causing your inner knee pain? In this article, we explore the top 7 causes of inner knee pain and what you can do about it. Let’s take a look.

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Knee Anatomy

Common Causes of Inner Knee Pain

1. Pes Anserine Bursitis

Pes anserine bursitis, or PAB, impacts only about 1% of the general population. It happens when the bursa, a small-fluid filled sac that prevents friction at the joint, between the hamstring tendons and the shin bone becomes inflamed. The swelling of the bursa puts pressure on other parts of the knee, causing pain.

Pes Anserine Bursitis

Symptoms of this condition frequently include:

  • Inner knee pain when straightening, bending your knee, or using the stairs.
  • Weakness near or around the knee.
  • Inner knee swelling.
  • Inner knee tenderness.
  • Limited range of motion due to pain.

PAB often results from repetitive use or overuse of the knee. For example, runners often experience this condition after increasing their distance or speed. Yet PAB may be caused by other issues, including:

  • Uncoordinated hip and knee movement.
  • Incorrect form or exercise technique.
  • Obesity.
  • Tight hamstrings.
  • Osteoarthritis (age-related wear-and-tear of the cartilage in the joint).
  • Tendonitis at the knee joint.
  • Muscle imbalances.
  • Inappropriate footwear.
  • Increase in sport or training intensity, time, or frequency.

Treatment Options and Pain Relief

Treating PAB usually involves resting your knee. It will often take 6-8 weeks to fully recover. However, there are various treatment methods you can use to speed up this process. Icing the area for 10-20 minutes at a time and over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce the initial pain. Eventually, exercise and movement can help accelerate your healing process. Performing appropriate exercises can improve strength, increase range of motion, enhance healing, increase blood flow, and prevent re-injury.

2. Knee Osteoarthritis

[Osteoarthritis](https://www.injurymap.com/diagnoses/osteoarthritis-of-the-knee= is the most common type of arthritis, which happens when the protective cartilage at the end of your bones wears down. In turn, this can create various levels of pain upon moving. Extra weight may place unnecessary pressure on the knee joints, leading to deterioration and pain. Yet, excess weight isn’t the only cause of osteoarthritis. Over time, the joints of the body naturally wear down.

Osteoarthritis of the knee

The common symptoms of knee osteoarthritis include:

  • Increased knee pain with activity (sometimes at the inner knee).
  • Swelling at the knee.
  • Warmth at the knee joint.
  • Knee stiffness.
  • Reduce mobility and knee range of motion.
  • Cracking or creaking sounds at the knee.

Generally, knee osteoarthritis is caused by:

  • Age.
  • Excess weight.
  • Genetics.
  • Repetitive stress injuries causing permanent damage to the knee joint.

Treatment Options and Pain Relief

The treatment of osteoarthritis frequently depends on the cause. If excess weight is leading to the deterioration of the knee joints, losing weight can help relieve pain and slow down the process. Pain relievers, such as over-the-counter medications, can also help alleviate the pain. Further, knee replacement surgery may be necessary depending on the severity of damage. Usually, exercise as treatment is attempted before surgery is recommended. Exercises, such as strengthening the muscles around the knee, can provide support and stability to the joint, reducing pain and other symptoms.

3. Rheumatoid Arthritis

[Rheumatoid arthritis] (https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/arthritis-of-the-knee) causes chronic inflammation at joints in the body, including the knee. Usually, it will impact both knees at the same time. When it impacts the knee, the synovial membrane lining the knee joint becomes inflamed and painful.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in your knees:
  • Warmth at the knee joint.
  • Knee joint stiffness.
  • Knee weakness or weakness around the knee joint.
  • Limited range of motion and movement.
  • Popping or clicking noises when you move the knee.

So why does rheumatoid arthritis happen at the knee? The truth is that no one really knows why the body’s immune system begins to attack its own cells. Yet, experts have theorized that it may be due to genetic factors or genetic triggers leading to the development of rheumatoid arthritis in the knees.

Treatment Options and Pain Relief

Typically, medications are used to treat this condition to reduce further deterioration of the joints. NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or corticosteroids may be used. Other prescribed drugs may help prevent the body’s immune system from attacking the joints. Like osteoarthritis, in severe cases, a knee replacement may be necessary. In some situations, exercise can significantly help decrease pain and improve function of the knee.

4. MCL Injury

An MCL injury refers to damage of the medial collateral ligament in the knee. This ligament connects your shin bone and your thigh bone along the inner part of the joint. This helps keep it stable and supported during movement. Typically, an MCL injury occurs in sport where the knee is pushed past its limits on the inner part resulting in a partial or fully torn MCL.

Common symptoms that appear during an MCL injury include:
  • Pain on the inner part of the knee joint.
  • Swelling of the knee.
  • A pop when the damage occurs.
  • Difficulty walking.
  • A feeling of looseness and instability in the knee.
  • Knee stiffness.

The most common cause of an MCL injury is from a direct blow to the area. This moves the structures past their usual limits placing pressure on the MCL and causing damage to it.

Treatment Options and Pain Relief

A minor MCL injury will heal on its own with rest and proper care, such as regular icing. NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may also help you cope with the initial pain and swelling. A brace may further give the knee time to rest and help accelerate healing. Once the initial pain has subsided, exercises can help strengthen the area and get your joint back to normal. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a torn MCL.

5. Medial Meniscus Injury

A meniscus tear or injury is a very common injury that happens at the knee. The meniscus is cartilage that stabilizes and protects the joint. This prevents damage to the bone and provides cushion during movement. Your knee joint has two meniscus, medial and lateral. The medial meniscus sits on the inner portion of the joint. A quick twist of the knee is all it takes to end up with a medial meniscus injury or tear.

A medial meniscus injury results in the following symptoms:

Inner knee pain.Inner knee swelling.A popping sensation at the time of injury.Problems bending or moving the knee.Locking of the knee.

A medial meniscus injury can occur from direct contact, such as a blow in contact sports, jumping movements, or quick pivot movement causing a twisting of the knee.

Treatment Options and Pain Relief

Usually, your treatment will vary depending on the severity of your injury. The inner meniscus do not have a huge blood supply and sometimes, surgery may be required. However, it isn’t always necessary. Rest and ice can go a long way in helping you recover from a meniscus injury. When the pain has begun to subside, proper stretching and strengthening exercises targeting muscles around the knee can help the area heal further, as well as prevent future injury.

6. Inner Knee Contusion

An inner knee contusion is a bruise at the inner knee. A bruise happens as a result of blood vessel and capillary damage, often caused by direct impact to the area. Usually, an inner knee contusion will present the following symptoms:Swelling or a small bump at the site of pain.Red, blue, or black appearance of the skin on the inner knee.Pain when force is applied directly to the area.Pain when bending the knee.Knee tenderness.

Treatment Options and Pain Relief

A knee contusion usually does not require any intense treatment strategies. Following the R.I.C.E., rest, ice, compression, and elevation, method will often suffice. Usually, this type of injury will heal within a few days.

7. Medial Plica Syndrome

Synovial tissue surrounds your knee joint, encapsulating the fluid within the joint. The medial plica is simply a fold in this tissue or membrane. However, when irritated, the medial plica can become problematic causing chronic inner knee pain.

Common medial plica syndrome symptoms include:Inner knee pain.Achiness at the knee joint.Pain that increases when using stairs, bending the knee, or squatting.A locking in the knee when going from sitting to standing after sitting for a long duration.Instability in the knee.Swelling in the knee.

Typically, this condition happens from overuse, such as increasing your intensity, frequency, or duration in running, biking, or similar activities. Injury from falling down or from direct impact can also lead to this syndrome.

Treatment Options and Pain Relief

Usually, with exercise, the average person will notice pain relief within 6-8 weeks. In particular, strengthening of the hamstring muscles and quadriceps has shown to significantly help during the recovery process, as well as prevent future pain incidences.

Exercises for Inner Knee Pain

    For most cases of inner knee pain, exercise is a sufficient and effective way to improve your pain levels, regain functionality, and prevent future pain. For the knee, in particular, stretching and strengthening of the muscles surrounding the thighs can provide support and stability to the knee. These include the hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the thighs, and the quadriceps, the muscles on the front of the thighs. Here are four exercises to get you started

  1. Hamstring Strengthening

    Hamstring strengthening with exercise band II
    15 reps x 3 sets

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    • Tie an exercise band to a solid object.
    • Stand with one leg in front of the other with the exercise band around the ankle of the front leg.
    • Stand on the opposite leg and support yourself by placing your hands on a chair if necessary.
    • Pull the leg with the exercise band backward as far as possible.
    • Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions with each leg.
  2. Hamstring Stretching

    Hamstring stretch
    30 sec. x 3 sets

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    • Lie on your back.
    • Bend one leg and use both hands to grab your thigh.
    • Pull your thigh up against your chest, so that it's vertically over you.
    • Then, stretch the knee as much as possible.
    • You should feel a stretch in the back of your leg and knee.
    • Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on both legs.
  3. Squat

    Squat with weight
    15 reps x 3 sets

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    • Stand on both legs with your feet slightly apart.
    • Your toes should point straight ahead.
    • Squat down and then slowly return to your starting position.
    • If it is too easy to perform 15 repetitions, you can put on a backpack with weight in it.
    • It should be hard for the muscles to perform the exercise, but it should not hurt the groin or knee.
    • Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
  4. Standing Thigh Stretch

    Standing thigh stretch
    30 sec. x 3 sets

    This browser does not support the video element.

    • Stand up.
    • Bend your knee and grab your foot with your hand.
    • Pull your foot up and your knee a little backwards.
    • Be sure your thighs are held together throughout the exercise.
    • Support yourself with a hand on a chair or something similar if necessary.
    • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and perform 3 repetitions with each leg.

When to see a doctor about your inner knee pain

You should consult with a medical professional if the pain persists for longer than 6-8 weeks. You should also see a doctor if you experience any of the following:+ Joint deformity.

  • Inability to put weight on the leg.
  • Intense and severe pain.
  • Sudden and rapid swelling.

Conclusion

Staying physically active is important for your health and your quality of life. However, certain types of activity or overuse and overtraining may result in inner knee pain. Take the proper time to rest and when the pain has subsided, try out some of the exercises above. Or better yet, use the InjuryMap app to help guide your recovery and ensure you don’t experience knee pain ever again!

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About the author

Sanne-Maria Bjerno has 10 years’ experience writing about health, medicine, and treatment. She is a trained journalist originally educated at Medicine Today Denmark and has since worked for the largest Danish public hospital, Rigshospitalet, the doctors’ union and the physiotherapists’ union. Her passion for creating useful, evidence-based information aimed at broad audiences has given her a comprehensive knowledge about most types of health, treatment and medical research related subjects.